Walk of the week: Campsie Glen

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THE Campsie Fells have been a place of escape for generations of Glaswegians. When the industrial heartland of Strathclyde was at its dirty, noisy peak they offered peace and quiet in the countryside, just a few miles from the clamour of the shipyards and factories.

Tom Weir, one of the country's finest exponents of the outdoors, first encountered the natural world in this area – and so began a passion for the hills that would take him to the Himalayas and back.

The Campsies are still as popular today, and not just with those living in Scotland's largest city. They are definitely worth the journey from other cities and towns in the Central Belt.

This walk allows the whole family to enjoy the beauty of the Campsies. Although it's a short stroll, you may have to factor in more time for smaller or older legs. But it's a rewarding walk, taking in impressive waterfalls, stretches of quiet woodland and extensive views. There's a wonderful caf at the start too.

Just arriving in the small village of Clachan of Campsie, its picturesque houses backed by the steep slopes of the hills, makes you feel as if you have left city life behind.

The start of the route is gentle as it passes out of the village, past an information board detailing Tom Weir's time in the area and into a wooded glen.

After a fork in the path look left, in front of Kirk Burn, for the rectangular remains of an old 19th-century bleaching works.

At the end of a well-made path you reach a pool called James's Linn with a waterfall on the other side of the burn. A sign advises you to go no further along the burn – it is dangerous, especially in the wet, but some will still carry on a little further. They are rewarded with more tumbling falls but they risk slipping down slopes of mud and loose rock.

Instead of continuing along the burn, retrace your steps to the fork passed earlier and go left, up a zigzagging path.

Some well-needed wooden seats have been built after the first steep section. These give you the ideal excuse to sit down and get your breath back, while enjoying the views opening up towards Tinto and the Southern Uplands beyond.

The path eventually reaches a series of wooden kissing gates below a car park on the Crow Road, which threads its way through the Campsies. It is worth taking a short detour up to the car park for the views both of the Campsies and of the distant hills to the south.

Otherwise, keep bearing left to drop down to a beautiful series of waterfalls – it sounds like a clich but it really is rural splendour on Glasgow's doorstep.

This walk can be muddy so wear good boots. Remember also that it is steep in places, so take your time – the outing is not meant to be an endurance test.

Distance 11/2 miles.

Height climbed 440 ft.

Time 1 to 11/2 hours.

Map OS Landranger 64.

Park

Drive to the centre of Clachan of Campsie, off the A891 west of Lennoxtown. There is a parking area next to a small square. There are buses from the centre of Glasgow. Contact Traveline (0871 200 22 33, www.travelinescotland.com) for details.

In summary

Go to the right hand side of buildings beyond the car parking area and follow a path behind a bike shop. Go past a gate and at a fork in the path go left.

On reaching James's Linn, a pool at the end of a well-made path, retrace your steps to the fork and go left.

The path zigzags up to a wooden kissing gate which you go through and bear left. Go through another wooden kissing gate and as the path veers right go through another gate, on the left. Beyond this a path leads down to some impressive falls.

Retrace your steps to the start, taking a detour left at the first gate you come to in order to reach a car park where there are good views.

Refreshments

The Aldessan Gallery is perfectly placed, next to the parking area, and has an excellent coffee shop. It is suitable for children.

While you are in the area The Glengoyne distillery – drive west to Strathblane then north along the A81 – offers interesting tours and is open all year (01360 550254, www.glengoyne.com).

In the other direction is the Colzium Estate (01698 251000, www.northlan.gov.uk), on the east side of Kilsyth. It has a walled garden, a ruined castle and picturesque grounds.

KITBAG

EVEN the most organised of us can sometimes leave the basics behind when we set out for a walk. That's not going to happen if your compass is already on your keyring. This little beauty is only 1.99 from Millets (www.millets.co.uk), so you're always going to know where you're going. Now, where did we put that map?